Leica M6/7 vs Zeiss Ikon ZM / low light candid photography

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by manuel_zamora_morschhaeuser, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. Hello everybody,
    a short disclaimer before I begin - my question is *not* about brand loality or Leica vs. Zeiss in a greater scale, but refers to a merely technical aspect (on of many, of course) in which the mentioned cameras differ - metering.
    I'm thinking about getting a rangefinder, for many different uses, mostly candid and street photography in normal daylight, but also in dim lightening conditions - in bars, clubs, at parties... you know what I mean, these occasions, where you need ISO 1600 and f/2 to get that 1/8th to 1/15th of a second.
    Normally I'd use my EOS 3 (analog) or 5D (digital) with a fast prime (35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.8) and use the spot meter to quickly establish the exposure ballpark and either check the histogram or re-meter the important aspects of the scene, if necessary.
    Now after deciding that I very much love b&w film photography for my private work and that I've never shot with a rangefinder before, I would really like to catch up with that experience. After I have now spent many weeks researching and reading up on rangefinder concepts, cameras, lenses (and shortly played with the Zeiss Ikon at the last Photokina) I still have the unanswered question of the different styles of metering patterns these cameras offer.
    As I understand, the Leica features some sort of semi-spot metering, where the only center 8-10mm are used. The Zeiss Ikon features "just" a classic center weighted averaging meter - a metering concept, with which I didn't have much success when applied to photography in dark places (to be honest - my Minolta X-700 I used does not have the best meter you can find. But still.).
    So I am asking everybody out there who has used both cameras or at least the Zeiss ZM in these circumstances: Which is more reliable and/or convenient, the semi spot metering pattern of the Leicas or the center weighted meter in the Zeiss? The Leica would probably fit more to my previous style of shooting in these conditions, but a new Zeiss is equally expensive or even cheaper than a used M7... I probably could imagine using a hand held meter, if that's it what it takes, but I would really prefer in-camera metering. Both the Leica and the ZM meter down to -2 EV, so the sensitivity of both cameras should be sufficent - the EOS 3 / 5D are not better in this regard.
    Thanks for reading & helping out!
  2. Manuel -- this is from the Leica product literature for the M7:
    Exposure metering through the lens (TTL), selectively with working aperture. Metering principle The light reflected by a metering spot in the center of the first shutter curtain. The metering spot has a diameter of 12 mm and thus corresponds to approx. 13% of the full film format or approx. 2/3 of the short side of the applicable bright line frame in the viewfinder. Metering range (for ISO 100/21°) From 0.03 to 125000 cd/m2 at room temperature, normal humidity and f/1.0. For ISO 100/21° this corresponds to EV-2 to 20 or f/1 and 4s to f/32 and 1/1000s.
    I wouldn't call this spot metering - not close. The EOS 3 in partial metering mode meters just 8.5% of the viewfinder - so guess which one is more like spot metering?
    I have a M7 and will tell you that it's simply amazing in the low light situations you describe. No mirror slap like you'd get from the EOS (I loved my 1N - but no comparison between the M7 and 1N in low light - hand held)...
    I've never shot with the Zeiss RF - so I can't comment first hand - but I'm sure if you visit the Zeiss site they'll have plenty of tech information.
  3. Thanks, Bob, for the quick answer! I have read the technical documents, and yes, the 12mm spot of the M7 is not a real spot meter.
    But it's the information you just gave me, that the M7 is very much capable of being used in low light situations, that helps me. If an equal number of ZM users say the same, I can make a decision which is based on other aspects of these cameras (build quality, handling... and by no means at last, price).
  4. Someone mentioned (on RFF) not long ago that the IKON has center weighted metering biased towards the left lower part of the frame to negate too much sky influencing exposure.
  5. I have all three and they are all good in their own ways.
  6. I realize that the specs for the M7 are 1EV greater sensitivity than the M6, but I've not had exposure issues with the M6 in night exposures with noctilux, or at several second exposures.
  7. I use both cameras and they both deliver great results. With the ZI, the weighted pattern is not symmetrical, so in vertical shots you should lift the camera with your right hand up to make sure the meter does not catch up too much of the sky,or in case of the interiors, the lamplight from above. I use the ZI with the 35/1.2 Nokton for this type of shooting, and the results are really nice even wide open. The M7 (0.85x) on the other hand, has a dimmer VF (even if I have the latest one), but is better suited for framing a 50mm lens, which is what I use on this body. The residual advantage of the M7 is, that it is slightly more silent, so this helps for stealth shooting.
    ZI+35/1.2 Nokton wide open, 1/15:
    Leica M7 50/2 Planar wide open:
  8. When it is that dark, you do not need to be constantly metering. Meter an average scene and leave the setting until the average changes. You can do this with any of these cameras just fine. You are over-thinking this.
  9. Thank you everybody for your replies!
    Yes, I'm probably overthinking this. But it's very reassuring to be told that the metering patterns of these cameras should not be the deciding criteria and that they both work fine even in these difficult lightening conditions. I will try to find a place where I can try out the M7 to compare it to the Ikon...
    Thanks again everybody -
  10. If I was getting into rangefinder photography at this time, and wanted AE, then I would seriously consider the ZI for issues of price alone. An excellent camera with excellent lenses, that's all you need. But the rangefinder patch on the ZI doesn't snap together as crisply as my Leica. It sounds trivial, but it's a big deal.
  11. I have owned both (although only the M7). You can not go wrong either way. M7 is the supremo IMHO, ZI is super anyway you look at it.
  12. I ended up selling the M7, too many quality control issues.
  13. I have had both. I'd give the slight edge to the M7 in low light situations but...IMHO the M7 is Leica's Achilles's heel in terms of reliability. Edge - ZI.

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